Public Regulation Commission (District 4)

Democratic Primary

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Job Description: The five-member Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is one of the most powerful governing bodies in the state–and most voters don’t have a clue what it does. The PRC was created by voters in 1996. Its commissioners are expected to regulate a broad range of enormously complex industries, from utilities to telecommunications to insurance to fire to transportation. District 4 is the only PRC district up for re-election this year that includes parts of Albuquerque, most of which falls in the South Valley. It also includes a part of southwest Santa Fe. The district stretches up to the Four Corners area and has the largest Native American population of any district.

Salary: $90,000

Term: Four years (maximum of two terms)

Office Currently Held By: Lynda Lovejoy (D), who is being term-limited out of office. The winner of this primary will win the general election because no Republican is running.

Derrith Watchman-Moore Strike!

(no website)

With 20 years of experience in environmental regulation, Watchman-Moore would be a powerful advocate for environmental justice on the PRC. She’s worked as an environmental scientist with the Navajo Nation and helped start the All-Indian Pueblo Council’s EPA. She’s also worked in the New Mexico Environment Department under Gov. Bill Richardson.

Over the years, she’s gained a lot of experience in negotiating between tribal, state and private entities. If elected, Watchman-Moore would focus on pushing for renewable energy use requirements for local utilities as well as increasing the customer service performance of the PRC, with an emphasis on increasing public access to information.

She is also keen to work out right-of-way issues involved with service delivery between tribal, state and local governments. Due to the breadth of regulatory power exercised by the PRC, many commissioners don’t have access to the technical experts necessary to make informed decisions, due to lack of resources. If elected, Watchman-Moore would advocate for more access to technical expertise for the PRC.

The bottom line is she’s smart, she’s diplomatic, and she’d be the ideal representative for District 4.

Steve Gallegos Spare

(no website)

It was difficult to decide between Watchman-Moore and the extremely likable Steve Gallegos. The longtime South Valley political activist got involved with the Chicano and antiwar movements in the late ’60s. He was also a city councilor in Albuquerque for 13 years, advocating for and helping to design several projects to help youth and the indigent as well as promote the arts. In the private sphere, Gallegos has worked in the telecommunications industry for over two decades and recently served as deputy secretary of the New Mexico Department of Labor. Both in public and private arenas, Gallegos has dealt with many of the issues regulated by the PRC. If elected, we feel confident he’d be a passionate consumer advocate who would look out for the interests of ordinary New Mexicans.

Andrew Leo Lopez Gutter Ball

A certified public accountant with an MBA from Stanford, Lopez is highly educated. Actually, he’d be the first one to point out that he has a better education that anyone who’s ever been on the PRC. He certainly has the experience to do an excellent job on the technical end.

Unfortunately, Lopez doesn’t have the personal skills necessary to operate on a governmental board infamous for petty infighting between commissioners. He’s a talker, not a listener. During our interview, we found it almost impossible to ask him questions, and when we did he largely ignored them.

Consequently, it was difficult to determine what he wants to accomplish if elected. He did tell us he wants wireless Internet access across the entire state of New Mexico, but he couldn’t provide us with a cost estimate. He also says he would like to force Qwest to spend more money on telecommunications infrastructure on Indian lands.

Louis E. Gallegos Gutter Ball

(no website)

Gallegos ignored our repeated offers to set up a candidate interview. He’s worked as a state corporation commissioner, a Mountain Bell employee, a volunteer firefighter and an insurance agent. As such, he has some experience with some of the industries regulated by the PRC.

Carol Sloan Gutter Ball

(no website)

She set up an interview. Then flaked on us. Then set up another interview. Then flaked on us again. Need we say more? All we know about her is that she’s from Gallup, she’s Native American, and she used to be county clerk for McKinley County.
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